Saturday, February 10, 2007

Cult of Personality

In 1988 the hard rock band Living Colour released a song called "Cult of Personality" on their debut album referring to the political term regarding turning a political leader into a cult figure using mass media. The song was great - quotes from various political figures peppered the background of the song and the band won an MTV Video Award for it. However, things change espeicailly in this day and age.

Today when I think of a cult of personality, I seldom think of a political figure. Instead I think of anyone who has managed to capture the attention of the media to such a degree that their names and exploits are constantly in the public eye. These celebrities range from actors and actresses to political figures to musicians to athletes to a category I cannot really name except to say they are famous for being famous. Anna Nicole Smith, aka Vickie Lynn Marshall, falls into this category.

I am not sure why Ms. Smith was so famous except, perhaps, her choice of 2nd husband. The first time I remember hearing about her was when she first started having difficulties with her late husband's family regarding his estate. From then on, the only things I recall hearing about her revolved around scandall and tragedy - her court case, her extreme weight gain and then loss, her "reality" show, her son's death days after her daughter's birth and now her tragic and mysterious death. I know that somewhere in the past thirty-nine years, Anna Nicole Smith did something to start her celebrity, but I still am not sure what she did that needed to be rewarded with 24 hour a day coverage on the event of her death. The only thing I can think of is the extreme thirst mass media has for anything that resembles news, whether it is truly news worthy or not.

Ms. Smith did one very noteworthy thing in her short time here - that was to bring her case regarding federal and state jurisdiction over in personam tort claims. Ms. Smith won her case and was in the process of continuing the suit against her step-son when she passed this week. For this and her other early accomplishments, Ms. Smith was indeed deserving of attention and recognition when she died in Florida this week. I just hesitate to say that the world needed to stop for the results of her autopsy.

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